One of the newer cafés in the East, The Laneway Market has been making social media headlines for its Dashi Risotto. Its name is derived from the location of the eatery, as being situated in a laneway. Quite interesting actually - and it's not just the name.
A full-fledged café serving casual breakfast and dinner mains, TLM offers the usual brunch fare like sandwiches, and several innovative Japanese-inspired dishes. Its interior is equally unique, featuring an eclectic mix of zen Japanese woods, geometric tiles, copper furniture, as well as the odd sprinkling of microgreens and flowers amongst craft beer bottles. Seemingly incompatible, together it makes one feel really welcomed and at ease.
Truffle Fries (S$9) - topped with sprouts and parmesan
Yet while we adored the space, the food unfortunately fell below expectations. We visited one evening without much of an appetite, so we settled for the more popular items. The Truffle Fries came piping hot, crispy, and generously topped with cracked pepper. The truffle could have been more pronounced, but it was fragrant and delicious enough. Our only gripe here is, while the sprouts looked pretty, they interferred with the flavours of the fries which weren't too strong to begin with.
Pulled Pork Burger (S$19) - 12-hour braised pork in beer infused BBQ sauce, purple cabbage slaw, truffle fries, mesclun
Soft and tender, drenched in a cloyingly-sweet sauce, atop two toasted buns - the presentation itself was not what we expected of a burger; and neither were the flavours. The slaw was dismissible, the pork was overly sweet; the worst were the buns. Over-toasted to the point of becoming biscuits, they were crispy, held none of the fillings well, and didn't do what a bun should do. We are huge fans of pulled pork and burgers so this was a major letdown.
Hon Dashi Risotto (S$18) - Arborio rice cooked in stock of kombu and dried bonito, bay scallops, thyme infused mushrooms, sous vide egg
A stunning dish on its own: a subtle flavourful broth, crispy shrooms, and crunchy vegetables - so it's a pity this is a bad risotto. The rice was a tad too mushy and lacked that nice bite one gets from a satisfyingly al dente risotto. While the flavours and textures were stunning, the extra broth and overcooked rice made it more like an awesome Cantonese congee instead of a stellar risotto.
Absolutely love how the bill was presented! It's like a mini fryer. So adorable.
It may be premature to discount TLM on a single visit, especially since they are relatively new. Still, the rather uninspiring food won't see us returning that soon. With their innovative menu, wonderful space and lovely service, it would be a pity if they couldn't pull the food off. So here's to hoping that, on our next visit, the food will be as good as instagram promises.
The Laneway Market
266 Tanjong Katong Road
Closed on Wednesdays